Stop message given for massive forest fire in England

Published:  09 May, 2011

The Stop message for the forest fire at Swinley Forest, Crowthorne, was issued at 17:43 on Sunday 8 May. The incident involved 12 of the 46 fire and rescue services in England, and was the largest incident (in terms of resources and length of operations) ever dealt with by Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The fire occurred in Swinley Forest, a 300-acre mixed (coniferous and broadleaf) forest, 55% of which was damaged by fire and forestry clearing operations.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Olaf Baars said: “This has been an exceptionally difficult and challenging operation. I would like to pay tribute to the contribution of our fellow fire and rescue services, who have been unstinting with their support. I would also like to thank the volunteers of the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) who staffed the catering unit when Hampshire’s catering unit was not on site and produced literally thousands of sandwiches and hot drinks, on a round the clock basis, which helped to maintain morale.

“This is one of the largest incidents that the fire and rescue service has dealt with since World War II and I am proud of the way in which we have all responded.”

A stop message is sent when an incident is being scaled down, ie no additional resources are required and existing resources on scene have been reduced. The fire is now largely extinguished apart from some remaining underground hotspots.

Resources used:

  • 12 fire and rescue services (Royal Berkshire, London, Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, West Midlands, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and wildfire experts from Northumberland)
  • 18 Jets
  • 21 hose reels
  • Two high volume pump (HVP) 6.5 kilometre water relays (ie 13 kilometres) from open water supplying three water supply lines
  • One water relay of three pumps from 21” towns main, four hydrants, four fire and rescue service water bowsers and three Forestry Commission water bowsers
  • four portable dams
  • eight light portable pumps
  • 10 HVPs
  • 10 various off road pumps
  • One military fuel tanker
  • One large mulcher
  • one tractor mounted mulcher
  • three 360 degree slew excavators
  • two tractor mounted excavators
  • four forestry teams involved in felling operations
  • one Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Module

Although it has been possible to reduce the level and intensity of the operational response, RBFRS said that there is a continuing risk that remaining hotspots may flare up, particularly as temperatures rise and the strong winds continue. It is hoped that RBFRS will be able to hand the forest back to land management by tomorrow (Tuesday). Once fire and rescue service operations have finished there will be an ongoing presence for at least the following two days whilst recovery of the HVP assets are completed.

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